Anthem and EKU launch healthcare scholarships to expand access in rural communities

By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky

Quality healthcare starts with education. Driven by a commitment to improve rural healthcare access, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky launched a new scholarship opportunity at Eastern Kentucky University that will support at least three students in their studies. The Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship will address access to care and improve health equity in Kentucky’s rural areas by expanding the number of primary care providers (PCPs) in the Commonwealth.

Addressing Kentucky’s need for rural health professionals

Kentucky suffers from rural health professional shortages in more than 40 different practice categories, with an extreme need for primary care providers. Healthcare access researchers estimate more than 102,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky lack sufficient access to a primary care provider. Anthem and Eastern Kentucky University’s partnership is designed to bring more providers to rural areas by educating more healthcare heroes.

“Anthem continues to invest and work with our community partners to find innovative solutions that bring more providers to practice in traditionally underserved and non-urban areas. We are proud to work with Eastern Kentucky University to make healthcare education a priority and help to ensure that quality care is available in the areas that need it most.”

Leon Lamoreaux, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield President in Kentucky

Scholarship program at EKU

Beginning this fall, the scholarship will fund complete tuition and training costs for a minimum of three native Kentucky residents aspiring to serve as PCPs in the Commonwealth and enrolled in the EKU Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN) program.

The recipients are required to practice in a federally recognized shortage area for a minimum of three years post-graduation, creating primary care access for at least 4,500 rural Kentuckians who do not have access to care today.

What Kentucky leaders are saying

“We are so thankful for Anthem and their commitment to the future of healthcare in our state. Opportunities like the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarships give Kentuckians a chance to serve Kentuckians and improve college access and affordability. This investment increases student success while bringing more local providers to eastern Kentucky.”

Dr. David T. McFaddin, Eastern Kentucky University President

Eastern Kentucky lawmakers, EKU alumni State Representative Deanna Frazier (R-KY) and State Senator Jared Carpenter (R-KY), joined the chorus of individuals celebrating the impact of the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship.

“As a proud Colonel alumna myself, Anthem’s new scholarship opportunity is especially welcomed. Health care education ensures not only access for the future but job security for so many young people. It’s an exciting time to watch our community grow and for eastern Kentuckians to get the healthcare they deserve.”

Rep. Deanna Frazier (R-KY)

“Covid-19’s impact on eastern Kentucky and its small business community has been significant. That’s why it’s vitally important that we continue to support the local businesses, healthcare providers and schools that are making a difference in such a difficult time. I’m thrilled to see Anthem and EKU doing just that to further both education and access in rural areas.”

Sen. Jared Carpenter (R-KY)

Scholarship recipients

Eight nursing students were selected for this year’s Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship based on academic excellence, an understanding for the Kentucky communities in need and a commitment to serve in a rural health professional shortage area after graduation. Students selected must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher.

The 2021 recipients are Alan Sloas, Haley Bloom, Madison Trent, Alexis McWhorter, Breanna Goble, Sara Cornelison, Shaye Duvall and Sara Darmadji.

More rural health partnerships

This announcement builds on Anthem’s recent partnership with Hazard Community and Technical College to create another scholarship opportunity for health care students in eastern Kentucky. In the last two months, Anthem has pledged nearly $200,000 to invest in the future of education and access to healthcare throughout the Commonwealth.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky serves more than 163,500 Medicaid members across the state – 42% of which live in a rural area. Anthem serves nearly 40,000 Medicaid members in eastern Kentucky with nearly 1 in every 5 residing in a rural community.

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